2019 was a decent year in horror, and I choose that term specifically.
It wasn’t cluttered with generational masterpieces, but it did have its fair share of very viewable and enjoyable horror films; some more than others. From violence and gore, to comedy-horrors, to artistic nightmares, to remakes and sequels, 2019 had a little bit of everything. Here is my personal list of every horror movie I viewed this year, ranked from the lowest grade out of 10 (yet, even when more than one movie have the same grade, they are still ranked in order of preference) all the way to the top horror movie I viewed this year. Enjoy!
50. Clown Motel – 3-10
The most disappointing horror film I viewed in 2019 was this straight-to-DVD mess entitled “Clown Motel”. A small group of ghost hunters cross paths with a bachelorette party in a grisly motel, only to be overrun by a crowd of various clowns. The film tried to attract attention by including Ari Lehman (the actor who portrayed the young Jason Voorhees at the very end of the original “Friday the 13th”) as one of its clowns, but it changes nothing to the bland acting, the absurd screenplay, and the boredom created from its 95 minutes. This disaster was only worth its 3 points out of 10 due to some scenes that made me smile from how ludicrous the clowns were.
49. A.M.I – 3/10
A woman downloads a new Siri-like app which she befriends, modifying its voice to resemble her deceased mother’s. She even names it “mother”. When she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend, “A.M.I.”, her app, guides her in exacting revenge. The storyline is cheesy and unrealistic, the acting is cringe-inducing, and the violence is minimal and underwhelming. Can a regular woman with a regular life truly become a stone cold killer who stalks her victims in cool, calm and collected fashion (not to mention, obeying every order from A.M.I. without hesitating)? All this is topped off by an epilogue just as ridiculous as the rest of the film. Avoid “A.M.I.” at all costs.
48. Critters Attack! – 4-10
Twenty-seven years after “Critters 4” comes a new installment in the “Critters” franchise. Having enjoyed the first two films and been very disappointed by parts 3 & 4, I was curious to see how a new film, almost three decades later, would compare to this hot and cold series. Unfortunately, “Critters Attack!” falls into the way-below-average category. The storyline isn’t necessarily what bothers me, since we know what to expect in a “Critters” film. The general execution of the film, in terms of dialogue and directing, is the main issue. Most of the jokes fall flat, forcing you to facepalm in disbelief rather than smile or laugh; characters draw correct conclusions far too quickly and easily; and most importantly, the gruesome battles between critters and humans… AREN’T gruesome.When the alien creatures bite down on human flesh, there is no blood, no gore, not even bite marks; just a puppet nibbling down on a limb. The only positive thing present is that the critters were all made by practical effects; no CGI. But even that aspect doesn’t save this sinking ship.
47. Stare – 4/10
When bodies are discovered with their eyes having exploded and seemingly having simultaneously died from heart attacks, a few of their loved ones regroup to try and solve this mystery. “Stare”, straight outta Japan, is one long lull that seems to stretch far beyond its reasonable 98 minutes. The directing seems awkward and pointless, while the acting isn’t anything out of the ordinary. The main villain did have an interesting look, however, portraying a Sadako-like character from the “Ringu” franchise (which you will also find higher on this list). Unfortunately, her looks won’t compensate from the nap you will inevitably fall victim to when you are witness to “Stare”.
46. It Comes – 5/10
A mix of marriage problems with supernatural forces killing off individuals is the basic, yet complex, storyline of this other Japanese film: “It Comes.” Numerous characters come and go as the evil spirit only complicates things further, along with one of the wildest and most eccentric exorcism rituals ever created. The film stretches out for 2 hours and 15 minutes, switching from character to character, aimlessly. If not for the impressive visuals duringthe spectacular exorcism, you won’t miss out on much if you skip this one.
45. Rattlesnake – 5/10
A mother whose daughter got bitten by a rattlesnake gets miraculous help from a mysterious woman who saves the young girl’s life. In exchange, the mother must take another human’s soul before sunset; otherwise, her daughter’s poisoned and fatal state will return. Despite some more-than-decent acting, an interesting start to the storyline is ruined by numerous lulls and a disappointing ending. More of a drama/suspense than a horror film, despite its Netflix categorization.
44. Assimilate – 5/10
How many “re-imaginings” or remakes have we been presented concerning the “Bodysnatchers”? A lot, right?And, to be fair, some weren’t that bad. This Netflix-available film has no official affiliation to the “Bodysnatchers” legacy, yet feels like a pale imitation. It’s been modernized for the present-day era and still has that creepy, emotionless feeling from those who have “turned”, yet its suspense withers away quickly and becomes quite repetitive. An average Netflix viewing for those who have never seen any of the “Bodysnatchers” films, yet very underwhelming for others.
43. Black Christmas – 5/10
I went into this one without any expectations… and I was still let down. It saddens me, too, to say that I’m disappointed, because I enjoy seeing Imogen Poots’ performances (“Black Christmas” is actually the third 2019 Poots film I have viewed after the dark comedy “The Art of Self-Defense” and “Vivarium”; the latter being present higher on this list). Despite having the same title as the original 1974 film and dealing with a sorority of college girls, this 2019 version has little to do with the 70s movie in terms of screenplay. You pretty much get the story in a nutshell through the trailer. In addition to this, there is a very intriguing scene in the trailer that is REMOVED from the film and changes the expectations and dynamics of viewers going into it after having seen the trailer. The unrealism and cheesiness of the source of evil kinda ruined it for me, although Potts brings forth a genuine performance, as always. Not all that violent; not all that gory; not all that good, either.
42. The Curse of La Llorona – 5/10
Coming from “The Conjuring” universe is “The Curse of La Llorona” which reveals the tale of a weeping woman named “La Llorona” who captures children and takes them away to the netherworld. While it has its creepy(ish) moments, the film just didn’t resonate as powerfully as “The Conjuring” films themselves. Then again, none of its spinoffs were as impactful, either. Lots of doubtful CGI use had me squinting in disbelief, as well. If you’re a teenager, you’ll probably enjoy the movie quite a bit. If you’re older, you might wanna pass.
41. Pet Sematary – 5/10
The original “Pet Sematary” from 1989 is an emotional rollercoaster of melancholy, guilt, and desperation, intertwined with a tale of a warning spirit and reanimated loved ones. Its 2019 remake lacks all of the emotion that was poured into the original: it’s bland, odorless, and tasteless. The acting is monotone from most of the cast and everything seems grey; both visually and emotionally. It’s not all bad, however. There is a clever twist in the storyline in comparison to the original, with an ending that angered or disappointed many, but which I enjoyed. Only one way to find out which side of the fence you’re on; and that’s by watching it.
40. Sadako – 5/10
The original director of the first two “Ringu” movies returns with a third installment in the series. The sinister Sadako returns, haunting a psychologist as she searches for her missing brother. While the acting is decent and a scene or two will evoke nostalgic memories for some fans of the series, the movie falls flat for the most part, due to never-ending lulls and uninteresting dialogue. It was disappointing to get this much of a letdown from the same man who terrorized many people in the late 90s with that very character.
39. The Silence – 5/10
In an apocalyptic world where creatures are ravaging through humanity, limb by limb, making noise will get you spotted immediately. Sounds a little like 2018’s “A Quiet Place,” huh? Well it’s also the premise for 2019’s “The Silence,” starring Stanley Tucci, available on Netflix. Based off a book published in 2015, giving the green light to the movie adaptation in 2017 (before “A Quiet Place”), the film doesn’t quite possess the same execution and incredible suspense as the 2018 box office release. While “A Quiet Place” has some enormous, intimidating creatures from who knows where, the ones found in “The Silence” are more pterodactyl-like, having been released from an underground cave in which they had been trapped for millions of years. There are also numerous plot holesthroughout the storyline (which I will let you discover for yourself), and while it isn’t completely horrible (including a short apparition of a post-apocalyptic cult), “The Silence” just doesn’t quite make the grade in constant comparison to “A Quiet Place”.
38. The Intruder – 6/10
Dennis Quaid is the center of attention in this uncomfortable, yet predictable thriller, as he should be. In the role of the former house owner who doesn’t seem to want to detach himself from his home (and wants more), Quaid demonstrates why at 65 years old, he is still capable of demonstrating his vast array of acting capabilities.
37. Aquaslash – 6/10
Being made in my home province of Quebec, Canada, by a Montrealer, “Aquaslash” holds a special place in my heart. With the promise of a psychopath who installs large blades inside of a waterpark’s waterslide, the concept was certainly enticing. Unfortunately, with a slow tempo in the storyline and intrigue within the first half of the film, you may not last until the second half. However, if you do make it to the much anticipated waterslide scene, it is well worth the wait with its load of impressive practical effects.
36. Countdown – 6/10
In this era where some horror films are targeted specifically for teenagers, “Countdown” fits right into this description. Despite its load of cheesy clichés, the film succeeds in adapting an old mythical tale of death to its 2019 context through a phone app. Think of it as a cheap imitation of the “Final Destination” franchise, turn your brain off, and you should have an okay time.
35. In The Tall Grass – 6/10
Based on a horror novella by the legendary Stephen King and available on Netflix, “In the Tall Grass” unfolds rapidly as a straightforward tale of a brother and sister driving through a rural town, only to hear a boy screaming from thefield of tall grass before them, asking for help out of the seemingly never-ending weeds. They decide to go help him and realize that they, too, are lost within the field, and every time they speak to each other, the sound is never coming from the same area. An interesting idea that was oddly exploited, dragging on through a lull in the middle of the movie. Starring the excellent Patrick Wilson, the storyline seems to get confused at times, only to attempt to clarify itself (yet not all the time). A great start, odd middle, and interesting ending await you in this novella adaptation.
34. Eerie – 6/10
(Note that although IMDb states that the movie is from 2018, it was actually released in the Philippines, its birth country, in March of 2019.) A Filipino ghost story comes to us on Netflix, taking place in the mid-90s, where a teacher in an all-girls religious school attempts to discover the mystery behind the deaths of some of their students. One of them constantly visits her as a spirit, without revealing too many details surrounding the deaths upon each encounter. The film is effective in its creepy atmosphere, with asomber lighting throughout and some tense scenes. There are far too many cliché “nightmare wake-ups” as I call them (where a frightening scene is interrupted by the main character waking up from a nightmare) in addition to moments where the teacher is creeping up on a spirit that has its back turned to her. However, “Eerie” contains a dramatically crafted storyline with some moments of terror woven through decent storytelling where minor details are gone over with a fine-toothed comb. You won’t necessarily be terrified, but some scenes should give you the creeps.
33. Satanic Panic – 6/10
As a light comedy-horror, “Satanic Panic” is effective with its use of decent practical effects. With a few familiar faces such as Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), Ruby Modine (Happy Death Day) and Jerry O’Connell (Scream 2), the cast offers some laughs here and there, although some aspects of the storyline are so farfetched that they’ll have you shrugging in confusion. “Satanic Panic” is still a fun film to view with some friends.
32. DreadOut – 6/10
If I were to tell you that a demon-related movie seemed like a mix between “Grave Encounters”, “Evil Dead” and “Silent Hill”, you’d think it would be absolutely awesome, right? Well, “DreadOut”, based on an Indonesian video game, is a relatively amusing movie, coming at you from all angles visually, drowning you through an aggressive soundtrack, but also with audio scares and screams cranked up to their maximum volume. It is, nonetheless, a pleasant screening to experience.
31. Happy Death Day 2U – 6/10
It’s always tough for a sequel to surpass the original film of a franchise. Many sequels fall into the trap of repeating what gave its predecessor so much success and hoping people will still buy into it. Speaking of repetitive, “Happy Death Day 2U” obviously follows its same concept of having its protagonist’s day repeat over and over until she dies, yet somehow finds a way to innovate and keep us interested in the storyline’s development. If you enjoyed the original film, you’ll most likely appreciate its sequel.
30. 3 From Hell – 6/10
Everybody’s favorite Firefly family members are back for a third chapter, unexpectedly after “The Devil’s Rejects” seemingly straight-forward ending. Although the revered Captain Spaulding is present for one small scene due to real life health issues, we follow Otis and Baby in the aftermath of their arrest, accompanied by their half-brother Winslow. The film has its moments, especially revolving around my personal favorite, Otis, while Baby is more (too?) crazed than usual. Unfortunately, it does not live up to its preceding two chapters, each superb in their own way, but is still worth a watch for any fans of the franchise.
29. Tone-Deaf – 7/10
Any film starring Robert Patrick as the villain (i.e.: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “The Faculty”) is bound to give you chills just by Patrick’s ice-cold stare. He does not disappoint as a man renting his home through Air BnB, but also hiding an insatiable urge which he never crossed off his bucket list: committing murder. The young woman who rents his house to relax for the weekend is in for a treat. We get some interesting monologues by Mr. Patrick as he breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience, mainly pointing the finger at millennials and their different habits. With a few sparks of dark comedy, “Tone-Deaf” is a horror-thriller that should be viewed solely for the former T-1000’s performance.
28. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged – 7/10
Shark movies are sometimes redundant and boring, depending on the storyline’s approach. For instance, “Deep Blue Sea 2” was a flaming pile of garbage that should be ashamed to even have the same title as its predecessor. The original “47 Meters Down”, starring Mandy Moore, was actually decent, adding an interesting twist to an “Open Water”-type screenplay. Its 2019 sequel surprised me in the sense that they managed to find an interesting and refreshing way to make us nervous involving sharks: by being trapped and lost in underground caves. With typical teenage girls making doubtful decisions, you’re in for a claustrophobically good time.
27. Eli – 7/10
In this Netflix-exclusive supernatural film, a young boy, accompanied by his parents, is welcomed into a surgeon’s mansion (played by Lili Taylor from “The Conjuring” and “The Nun”). There, he is told that he may be treated for hisvery rare and fatal disease in which he reacts violently when exposed to the polluted outdoor atmosphere. You’ll be witness to some creepy scenes involving threatening spirits as you keep changing your mind about the doctor’s true motives. Young Charlie Shotwell’s performance is credible and authentic, which is not always an easy feat to pull off for child actors. With an ending you won’t see coming, “Eli” will leave you with a smile.
26. The Dead Don’t Die – 7/10
Who doesn’t like Bill Murray? After delivering a brilliant cameo in “Zombieland”, Murray gets to star in his own living dead film, alongside Adam Driver. Just like its main antagonists, “The Dead Don’t Die” moves at a slow pace, with instances of silence, eccentricity and repetitive jokes. However, it’s its own humor that makes it unique and charming; a humor that is not for everyone, a little like “Napoleon Dynamite”. I could fully understand that one would find this film boring, if you don’t appreciate its peculiarity. A fantastic cast featuring Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Larry Fessenden and Tilda Swinton embark on a peaceful and calm ride from writer/director Jim Jarmusch who gives us a light, feel-good zombie movie, as oddly as that may sound.
25. Escape Room – 7/10
If you enjoy participating in escape rooms and love a side dish of the “Saw” franchise, look no further than 2019’s “Escape Room” (not to be confused with the 2017 film of the same title). Characters coming from different backgrounds are brought together in a deadly series of escape rooms, dropping bodies as they journey through the difficult tests. Though some aspects of the screenplay are somewhat predictable, others are clever and surprising. For its visual impressiveness and decent performance by its cast, “Escape Room” will make you think twice the next time you get invited to participate in one.
24. Ma – 7/10
As a teenager, who wouldn’t want to have a basement to drink free of responsibilities and regret, surrounded by your best friends and having a carelessly good time? Ma, interpreted brilliantly by Octavia Spencer, offers just that to a small group of friends who soon invite more and more to exploit her basement. Unfortunately, Ma is following a much more sadistic and sinister plan of hers where she often switches from light-heartedness to darkness in the blink of an eye. A suspenseful thriller (also starring a personal favorite of mine, Juliette Lewis) that takes a vicious turn in the last quarter of the film. Many will enjoy “Ma” for its entertainment factor, despite it targeting mainly teens.
23. Annabelle Comes Home – 7/10
I adore the first two “Conjuring” movies. Unfortunately, some of its spinoffs weren’t so enjoyable. I was disappointed by the first “Annabelle” film, as well as “The Curse of La Llorona” (lower on this list), but never as much as “The Nun”. “Annabelle: Creation”, however, surprisingly pleased me more than its precedent chapter, so I had to give this third installment in the “Annabelle” series a chance. Amazingly, it surpassed many expectations of my knowledge of the “Conjuring” franchise. With an interesting plot and some great acting, “Annabelle Comes Home” is a refreshing chapter that will satisfy most fans of the series. My only wish would have been to see more of the always-excellent Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga duo, but I suppose they reserved more spotlight for those two fantastic actors for “The Conjuring 3”.
22. Darlin’ – 7/10
If you’ve seen “Offspring” and “The Woman”, then you’ll want to come full circle by completing the trilogy and viewing “Darlin’ ”. In her first project as writer and director, Pollyanna McIntosh (who stars in all three films) reprises her role as “the woman” who mysteriously drops off her daughter at a hospital, who is as much as a wild savage as she is. After the young girl gets transferred to a religious, all-girl school to be trained and “civilized”, the Woman attempts to get her back. Many themes are brushed upon throughout the film: the transition to womanhood, animalistic impulses buried deep within us, the struggle against patriarchy and the brainwashing of religion towards the innocence of childhood. Through all of this, McIntosh succeeds in putting together an interesting storyline that has its flashes of beauty and vengeful violence.
21. Vivarium – 7/10
If you want odd, “Vivarium” will give you odd. Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots (who also both co-star in the dark comedy also released this year, “The Art of Self-Defense”), the tale revolves around a couple who goes for a house visit in a freshly constructed new neighborhood. Unfortunately, they become trapped within the town, always being brought back to the original house they visited, no matter which path they take. Visually, “Vivarium” is crisp, clean and stunning, while Poots’ incredible performance only improves as the movie goes on. As a horror/sci-fi, every time you think the film can’t get any weirder, it proves you wrong, smacking you in the face with an ending that can be interpreted in many ways.
20. 8 – 7/10
Simply entitled “8”, writer/director Harold Holscher brings to us a demonic, African folklore tale. I’m not usually into folklore, but this one was as beautiful as it was well-sewn together. Tshamano Sebe, who interprets the main character, was a perfect fit for the role of a gentle man who befriends a little girl, all while being pursued by a group of angry villagers who believe he is a soul-craving demon. Definitely worth a watch for its poetic beauty, “8” isn’t so much of a scary movie, but a stunningly charming horror film, making me think of 2016’s “Before I Wake”.
19. Door Lock – 7/10
While Spain’s 2011 masterpiece, “Sleep Tight”, gave the perpetrator’s point of view as he infiltrated himself into a neighbor’s apartment, night after night, unbeknownst to her, “Door Lock” is a South Korean remake of the film where we are witnesses to the victim’s point of view within relatively the same storyline. While the Asian remake lacks the undeniable charisma of the Spanish version’s antagonist (in addition to the ending not being quite as shocking and unpredictable), the film does count many more victims than its original film, as well as exposing brutal violence and unexpected gore. Tension is at its maximum throughout the motion picture as it reaches its final climax.
18. The Prodigy – 7/10
Some possession movies are terrifying; some become redundant. “The Prodigy” brings a different twist to the genre, without spoiling anything. Although some aspects of the storyline are predictable, it doesn’t take anything away from the creepiness of the young boy’s performance, interpreted by Jackson Robert Scott (who also interpreted Georgie in both “It” movies from 2017 and 2019). Along with a few effective jump scares and a shocking ending, “The Prodigy” was a pleasant surprise.
17. Child’s Play – 7/10
In the present cinematic horror era, remakes are thrown at us left and right. Some are bitterly disappointing (2016’s “Cabin Fever” and 2015’s “Martyrs” come to mind) while some reach incredible levels of entertainment (such as 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead”, 2006’s “The Hills Have Eyes” and 2013’s “Evil Dead”). This year’s “Child’s Play” falls somewhere between these two extremes on the remake spectrum. Modifying the essence of Chucky’s sinfulness (in addition to the doll’s brand name) was gutsy, but seems to work for the most part (minus the questionable look of the actual doll). Mark Hamill as the voice of the revered antagonist is genius for the contrast in his clear innocence in the beginning in comparison to his determination of wrongdoings in the second portion of the tale. Also, its adaptation to 2019 with Chucky being able to control other electronic devices was quite interesting. While I was expecting worst from this remake, it was a genuinely enjoyable revelation.
16. The Lighthouse – 7/10
If psychological despair surrounding isolated characters is your cup of tea, then you’ll definitely want to check out “The Lighthouse”. Filmed entirely in black and white and bringing us two unbelievable performances from big names such as Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, co-writer and director Robert Eggers brings to us a lonely nightmare in various tones of grey. Set in the 1890s, Pattinson’s character descends deeper and deeper into madness as a lighthouse keeper, along with his mentor (Dafoe), in charge of holding their post for an extended amount of time, with no contact to the outside world. Although some artistic, poetic aspects did not particularly attract me (contrary tomany critics who acclaimed the film as a masterpiece), “The Lighthouse” remains a cold, harsh look into what solitude and isolation can do to a man’s psyche. While not necessarily frightening, its heavy atmosphere will keep pressing you down into your seat.
15. Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10
I waited 10 years for this sequel. Soon after 2009’s amazing “Zombieland”, many rumors circulated that the original cast was reforming once more for a sequel. Years passed and I lost hope on ever seeing Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock once again. You’d understand that I was thrilled, a decade later, to view the sequel to one of my favorite zombie films. Although it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as its predecessor, “Double Tap” doesallow us to reunite with the sarcastic humor of Woody Harrelson and the witty replies of Jesse Eisenberg, whom I both love. Zoey Deutch as the naïve new group member was a brilliant addition. I thought she was going get on my nerves rapidly when we caught a glimpse of her in the film’s original trailer, but she ended up turning into one of my favorite characters. Many of Columbus’ “zombie apocalypse survival rules” are also discovered or reiterated as they help him and his friends stay alive. Despite not living up to the original film, “Zombieland: Double Tap” includes numerous new ways to kill zombies and should definitely be viewed for its high entertainment factor.
14. The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale – 8/10
Another zombie film makes its way on my top 50 list, this time coming to us from South Korea. When an old man is bitten by a zombie, he seems to be rejuvenated overnight and decides to exploit this miracle. With the help of his family, he captures the zombie and invites his elderly friends to pay a fee to also recuperate some youthfulness. The plan backfires when, soon after, the zombie virus spreads throughout their bodies and the town is overrun by the living dead. The family must then find ingenious ways to survive; all while one of the female family members slowly falls in love with the befriended original zombie who started it all. “The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale” was a tremendous surprise when I viewed it on the big screen at Montreal’s Fantasia Festival through its innovation ofzombie kills that even films like “Zombieland” never thought of. They even succeed in making romance involving a zombie credible and hilarious. If you enjoy comedy-horrors, this film is definitely a must-watch for you.
13. Come To Daddy – 8/10
Elijah Wood and Stephen McHattie star in this strange tale of a father asking his son to come visit him after 30 years of absence. Upon the son’s arrival, a series of bizarre twists and turns pile up as the audience keeps questioning the father’s motives. An awkward atmosphere weighs down on the characters while we wonder what type of film “Come to Daddy” is all about. Does it involve supernatural forces? A menacing creature? Or perhaps something else? To give you any more information would spoil its delicious surprise. Despite not having numerous violent scenes, when they do occur, the practical effects are gory and effective. Sprinkled with bits of dark humor, co-writer and director Ant Timpson’s film should most definitely be on your watch list.
12. Ready or Not – 8/10
Everyone loves a good ol’ game of “Hide and seek”, but how much enjoyment would we get out of it if you were to be brutally murdered if you were found? The excellent Samara Weaving (starring in both 2017 awesome movies “Mayhem” and “The Babysitter”) is put to the test after marrying the love of her life and participating in a family tradition on the night of their wedding. The film isn’t necessarily scary, but it sure is a diabolically fun ride through sarcasm and violence in a nerve-racking cat-and-mouse game. You’ll be entertained all the way to the final scene.
11. Little Monsters – 8/10
The third and final “zomedy” to make the list comes to us from Australia and stars the incredible Lupita Nyong’o (leading role in Jordan Peele’s brilliant “Us”) as a bubbly Kindergarten teacher who attempts to survive with her students on a field trip, accompanied by one of her pupil’s uncle (Stephen Peacocke). Numerous laugh-out-loud moments await you as the living dead scurry left and right. Although there could be room for much more violence and gore, Nyong’o’s performance is so charming that you can’t help but fall in love with “Little Monsters”.
10. Extra Ordinary – 8/10
Movies pertaining to human sacrifices are often terrifying and brutal, but can they also be hilarious? You bet, they can. “Extra Ordinary” proves just that with a cast including an authentic Maeve Higgins and the uproariously funny Will Forte, who plays the evil villain. With a touching side of humanity, clever homages to “Ghostbusters” and “The Exorcist”, and a never-before-seen climatic ending that’ll have you roaring with laughter, “Extra Ordinary” is one of the funniest horror-comedies of the year.
9. The Wretched – 8/10
If you think you’ve seen every “my neighbor is a killer and nobody believes me” movie, think again. “The Wretched” mixes that certain type of cliché with mythical legends and innovation to bring a creepy twist on the genre. The film contains a generous amount of practical gore, a heavy and uncomfortable soundtrack, and some genuine acting from the cast. The way the main antagonist (so I don’t reveal any spoilers) deforms her body in uneven and jerky movements is truly unnerving and unsettling. With an ingenious ending that you won’t see coming, “The Wretched” is a delightfully dark film to discover.
8. Brightburn – 8/10
This movie impressed many and disappointed others. For my part, I was thoroughly impressed with this dark imagining on the concept of Superman’s origins. With Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as his adoptive parents, a young Jackson A. Dunn portrays the young Brandon Breyer who discovers he possesses unimaginable powers. Unfortunately for those around him and contrary to all other super hero films, he chooses to use them for sinister motives. Surprisingly gory deaths will have you grimacing in a film where you wouldn’t expect them. If you haven’t done so already, you should definitely give a chance to this horror/thriller where a special boy makes a life-altering decision with his abilities.
7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – 8/10
Ah, a good ol’ throwback to old-school horror where tales of horror and fantasy conjure supernatural monsters. A healthy dose of practical effects is mixed with some decent CGI, in addition to a spine-tingling soundtrack, to create an entertaining concoction of discomforting fear. Directed by André Øvredal (who also directed 2010’s “Troll Hunter” and 2016’s excellent “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”) and co-written by the legendary Guillermo Del Toro, “Scary Stories” brings to the silver screen what haunts children’s (and sometimes adults’) imagination.
6. Doctor Sleep – 8/10
I was hesitant, probably like most people, when I sat down in front of the movie theater screen to view this sequel to 1980’s ground-breaking “The Shining”. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Despite its 2 hours and 30 minutes, time flew by as a clever tale unfolded before my eyes. An unbelievably talented cast is assembled, including Ewan McGregor (in the role of the grown-up, yet troubled Danny Torrance), Rebecca Ferguson (as the lead villain who will hypnotize you to the very end) and Kyliegh Curran (as the young gifted girl who forms an alliance with Danny), who shines the brightest. While Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall don’t appear in this film, their characters do, along with memorable ones from the original story. Director Mike Flanagan (who also directed numerous gems such as “Oculus”, “Hush”, “Before I Wake”, “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and “Gerald’s Game”) does an incredible job at combining nostalgic aspects within an innovative atmosphere, wrapped tightly with a brilliant story. “Doctor Sleep” isn’t so much terrifying as it is creepily spellbinding, but deserves this high spot on our list of top films of 2019.
5. The Lodge – 8/10
Directed by the talented duo of Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz who brought us the gut-wrenching “Goodnight Mommy” from 2014 (if you have not seen it yet; DO IT), I had high expectations on their new film “The Lodge”. As you know, sometimes, when you build your hopes up (too much?) for a film, you are often bitterly disappointed. Rest assured: “The Lodge” does not disappoint. It brings forth a small, yet impressive cast made up of Riley Keough (“It Comes at Night”), Jaeden Martell (2017’s “It” as well as 2019’s “It: Chapter Two”) and Alicia Silverstone. There is absolutely nothing funny about this film, as there often was in some horror-comedies appearing on this list. The film presses down on your chest with an incredible amount of discomfort and cold darkness. Without revealing too much of the synopsis, a father’s new girlfriend is left on her own with her boyfriend’s teenagers at their secluded family cottage in the dead of winter as events get weirder and weirder. Your emotions will literally be torn away from your body and crushed from beginning to end. Be prepared.
4- Crawl – 8/10
We’ve all heard someone describe a movie by saying: “It was a great idea, but badly exploited.” “Crawl”, however, is quite the opposite: a very simple, straight forward idea, but exploited brilliantly. A hurricane + alligators + the talented director Alexandre Aja = a Hell of a pleasantly stressful time. A few intelligent characters portrayed by some stellar actors are thrown into an adventure filled with violent twists and turns, with a healthy dose of near-perfect CGI. If you haven’t seen this thrill ride yet, you’re missing out.
3. It: Chapter 2 – 8/10
The first chapter from 2017 was nearly a modern-day masterpiece in my eyes, so you can understand that I was eagerly awaiting the concluding installment, two years later. With numerous scenes involving the original teenage actors, the cast only improved when their adult version were to be portrayed, among others, by James Ransone, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and my personal favorite, James McAvoy. The choice of actors for the Losers’ Club’s grown-up counterparts is irreproachable as physical resemblances and personal habits was spot on. The movie did not disappoint in terms of the actual acting, either, as every performance was stellar and authentic. Bill Skarsgårdreturning as Pennywise was inevitable and just as visually delicious as ever. There were, however, two blemishes on the film, personally. Even though some scenes were creepy, I wasn’t as scared as I had been when viewing the first chapter. Also, I would’ve loved to dig deeper into the origins of Pennywise. We know he was a clown who worked on a circus, but how did he evolve into a supernatural force? Regardless, it was an awesome movie worth watching more than once.
2- Midsommar – 8/10
After having been grinded deep into my movie theater seat by the heavy atmosphere of Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” in 2018, I couldn’t wait to see what he had in store for “Midsommar”, whose trailer had intrigued me to the highest point. It isn’t so much of a scary movie, like Aster’s 2018 motion picture, yet the uncomfortable and unavoidable heavy atmosphere is still present. It is shocking, mesmerizing, hypnotizing and metaphoric all at once. Florence Pugh’s performance as Dani was incredible. In one of the first scenes, without spoiling anything, you can feel her visceral, heart-felt pain through her agonizing cries of dismay. So much so, it made me feel physically ill for a moment. As she, her boyfriend, and a few of his friends are invited by their Swedish exchange classmate to his hometown, none of them can prepare for what awaits them on this rare, cultural celebration they are about to witness. Those who disliked “Hereditary” will probably not be the biggest fans of “Midsommar” either, as it keeps somewhat of the same style. However, if you enjoyed Aster’s previous work, do yourself a favor and dive into this nightmare in broad daylight.
1. Us – 8/10
Here it is: number one. Widely critiqued for its plot holes and unrealistic approach, “Us” divided many horror fans in terms of their love or hatred for this film. After having stunned me in 2017 with “Get Out”, the expectations were high for what Jordan Peele was going to conceive next. “Us” is as visually stunning as it is perplexing, with a haunting soundtrack that’ll stick with you for days. What could be more confusing and terrifying at once to see yourself stalking you? Although some aspects of the storyline are clearly farfetched, it takes nothing away from the stress and fear you will feel throughout this complex tale. Lupita Nyong’o is unmistakably the shining star of the film, despite everyone else performing fantastically (and for a lot of them, portraying two roles, as well). With twists and turns at every corner, “Us” won’t leave you indifferent; guaranteed.
Article written by Simon Rother